Sword fern, Nephrolepis - varieties and care

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Sword Fern

The sword fern is one of the most popular ferns with its interesting appearance, which results from the delicate and slightly wavy or even very curly pinnate leaves. The fern is not a really easy-care plant, however, because it places some demands both on the location and on the acclimation.
The sword fern is demanding in the care - but still not as sensitive as many other ferns. Whether it thrives magnificently or withers quickly, depends on location and care, but also on the right time of purchase. The best time for shopping is the spring, because then the fern has enough time over the summer time to get used to the climate of the apartment from the greenhouse air, without being directly confronted with heating air.
The sword fern is available in numerous species, but differ only in their size and the shape of pinnules and fronds, the care is identical.
Strong sunburns like the sword fern as well as a too dark location. Perfect for the fern is a location that offers partial shade - for example, on an east or west window. Not infrequently, ferns are also found in staircases. This is only ok for the plant if it is not exposed to drafts. In summer, warm temperatures in the room for the fern are not a problem and in winter, he can tolerate a little cooler air without problems. However, if the fern is in a heated room, it should be sprayed regularly with water. Alternatively, an electric humidifier can be installed. If the sword fern is exposed to direct sunlight, the leaves get brown spots and dry out. On the other hand, if it is too dark, then the growth of the entire plant is reduced considerably. The best thing for the sword fern is a bright location, which offers daily hours in the few hours of sunshine. It is also important that the sword fern in the apartment is not placed too close to radiators!
Tip: A bright bathroom with natural daylight is the perfect location for the sword fern, as it provides both light and the necessary humidity and warmth.

Sword fern in the pot

The perfect location for the fern
  • is not too dark
  • does not expose it to direct sunlight or heat from heating
  • protects him from drafts
  • is light
Substrate & soil
Perfect for the sword fern is a substrate that brings a high proportion of humus and peat. For this you can mix commercially available potting soil with compost - for example, from your own garden - and also add a third peat. Older plants are content with normal potting soil in ideal location and optimal conditions in terms of humidity.
Whenever the roots of the sword fern completely fill the plant container, a repotting is required so that the growth is not restricted. It is usually enough for older plants to replant them at the rate of three years. By contrast, young plants require a larger plant container every year. However, the new planter should always be only a few inches larger than the previous planter. Repotting should always be done in the spring before the main vegetation time of the plant takes place. This ensures that the Schwertfarn can still optimally Aklimatisieren after repotting and the individual fronds get no discoloration. The repotting and also the insertion of newly purchased ferns should be done according to a fixed pattern. First, the root ball is as completely as possible freed from the old substrate. Then a new drainage layer is created in the new planter. Then the pot is half-filled with the soil, compost and peat mixed substrate, then the fern is used. The remaining cavities are filled with substrate. It is important then to push the earth well. In the final step, the plant is vigorously sprinkled with lime-free water.
Tip: In parallel with the repotting, you can do the same with the older plants, a root division for the purpose of rejuvenation and propagation of the plant.
Important for the sword fern is that it is supplied with fertilizer from March to October. Liquid and slow-release fertilizers are ideal for the fern. Less favorable is the use of natural nutrients such as horn shavings or compost for fertilization. Since the fern rests in the cold season, no fertilization must be done here to prevent over-fertilization. An excessive supply of nutrients can cause the fern to form yellowish discolored fronds.
Fertilization takes place
  • from March to October with commercial liquid fertilizer according to packing inscription
  • not at all in the cold season to avoid over-fertilization
  • too intense when the fronds turn brownish
To cut
The sword fern does not necessarily need a pruning.If necessary, then the fronds, which are dried up or have brown tips are shortened by a few centimeters. If there is a need, then the lush growth of the sword fern can also be corrected with a cut. For this purpose, the roots of the plant are carefully pruned in the course of potting and then put back into the old planter with new substrate.


Also, you can easily regulate the lush growth of the sword fern with one cut. This measure is often necessary, for example, when the fronds of the plant have already assumed a circumference of over 1 meter. Cautiously prune the roots of the fern and then put the plant back in the old planter.
to water
The plant has a very high water requirement, but does not tolerate waterlogging. The plant should be watered when the upper layer of the earth is noticeably dried out. To prevent waterlogging, you can already prevent potting by in the planter as the lowest layer in front of the substrate potsherds are designed on the ground. This allows excess irrigation water to drain off the roots better. Casting should always be done with lime-free water. The sword fern does not only draw its moisture requirements from the irrigation water, but also from the air. This can be done in our regions by the fern is sprayed regularly with a water atomizer. Alternatively, the room humidity can be permanently increased by means of an air conditioner to provide the fern so optimal conditions.
When casting you should
  • Avoid waterlogging
  • take into account the high water requirement
  • provide a supplement of water absorption by spraying the plant
Tip: It may make sense to choose a location next to an aquarium or a room well to provide the fern with the necessary humidity.
The propagation can be done by means of root division, in which the root ball of an older plant is cut through and divided as equally large pieces of the fern divided into different planters. Alternatively, one can carefully separate the so-called foothills, which form older plants, in the spring and plant them in a small vessel with humus rich and peat-infested soil. The propagation by sowing is possible, but very complicated and also tedious.
The sword fern is a tropical plant and should only be placed sheltered from the wind in summer in the garden, on the balcony or on the terrace. Even in winter, a room temperature of 10° C must not be undercut, although the tropical plant lays in the cold season a vegetation break. Under no circumstances may be fertilized in the hibernation phase. The fern should not be placed near radiators and sufficient humidity should be ensured, optionally by spraying the plant with a water sprayer. When bought in the winter, the sword fern often has problems switching from the air-conditioned showrooms to the heated interiors. Therefore, you should not buy the sword fern in winter at all.
Tip: Even in winter, the sword fern should not be exposed to a long, lasting, even if weaker, sunlight, which is why even in winter south-facing windows are unsuitable as a location.
Pests and diseases
Too little water supply punctuates the fern with dried-up fronds, but they can be cut off. Yellow leaflets indicate too low a room temperature. If the leaflets fall off, a too dark location may be the reason. Lime stains on the leaves can be avoided by spraying with lime-free water. If the location is wrong - for example, the plant is too dark or the humidity is too low - sword ferns are susceptible to the infestation of aphids as well as scale insects or spider mites.
frequently asked Questions
Is the sword fern poisonous?
Sword ferns are low toxic. However, consumption may be followed by vomiting and nausea in infants or cats. In this case, a poison control center should be contacted immediately!
Is the sword fern really a room climate improver?
Yes, the sword fern, for example, is able to absorb even harmful gas particles via its leaves and to convert them back to the room air in oxygen. Thus, the plant can significantly favor the indoor climate.

Video Board: 9 Top Ferns to Grow as Houseplants.

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